This is in response to September Farm and her “Oh Hey, Friday”, where she asks her readers/bloggers to write up a little post about five things–anythings.
Chuck and I were in Bayfield, Colorado, where we were living for a month. We got there after driving all the way from Florida, stopping to sightsee and visit relatives along the way.
Here’s my five highlights as we crossed the southern states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.
1. If you have never been to the Flora-Bama Lounge, you have missed the ultimate “beach bar”. Chuck and I decided to drive coast roads on our way to Bayfield, and we stopped here about 4 pm on a Sunday for a true slice of Americana and a gin and tonic. Located on the Florida/Alabama state line on Perdido Key, in one hall there was an old classic country trio playing and singing. The female lead singer did Patsy Cline songs and was great. In another hall was a band doing southern rock. Downstairs in the open air bar was a third band. We left Perdido Key by ferry crossing Mobile Bay and arriving on Dauphin Island, Alabama.
2. In Biloxi the coast road runs by the Hurricane Katrina Monument. We stopped to take a look. The memorial at 22 feet high is as tall as the storm surge that ravaged this beach city. In the glass case is a collage of items salvaged in the clean-up–a kid’s baseball trophy, a broken ship’s wheel, pieces of china, a weathered book, and hundreds more. On the black polished granite stone are etched names of the deceased. It is sobering, especially to those of us who live near the waters edge and have to contend with the possibility of one of these monstrous storms.
3. When we crossed the state line driving from Mississippi into Louisiana, we drove west on old US 90. This is a stretch of road that time forgot. There was hardly any traffic, and the road or bridges haven’t been repaired in a long time. We loved the old metal bridges, which reminded Chuck and I of our childhood. This is truly a wonderful stretch of blue highway. By the way before interstates, US 90 was the ultimate highway for crossing the American south. It ran from Jacksonville Beach, Florida all the way to Los Angeles, California. I grew up on US 90 in a little north Florida town called Monticello, and it was always a busy highway. Imagine how much traffic this old road used to see.
4. Another stretch of highway that time forgot runs as close to the coast as you can get between Abbeville, Louisiana and Port Arthur, Texas. It reminded us of crossing the Florida Everglades on the Tamiami Trail when we were young. Hardly any traffic, no homes, no stores, no gas stations, and very little room to even pull off the road, SR 82 is raised and runs between marshes until you get to a seaside oil town named Cameron, LA., which was ravaged by another hurricane and the evidence remains. Then we crossed a major canal on a ferry, and the scenery changed to miles of cattle pastures on one side and beaches on the other side. We crossed into Texas just before Port Arthur, whose downtown is a ghost town, literally. It had a lot of abandoned multi-story buildings. By the way we googled to read about these areas. You won’t find any tourist signs for information. Remember these are areas that time has forgotten.
5. This is where we decided to turn north, because we are after all headed to Colorado. We love to see other state’s farming communities, so we headed across East Texas driving on their little roads that are marked “Farm Roads”. East Texas looks like central north Florida with rolling hills, oak trees, lots of pine forests, red clay and sand. Best stop though was Hemphill, TX with its NASA museum. This is the tiny town where the Shuttle Discovery’s debris came down, including the bodies of its seven astronauts. Their story is amazing, and it will touch your heart. This may be the best stop of our entire trip; this little town of about 5,000 people with its courthouse square and its amazing story about how a little town took care of 20,000 volunteers for 16 days.
Well, that’s my five! The drive took us a week, but we’re retired so what’s a week??